This is Dewaxed Shellac, and How it Puts You in Control. In this post, I’ll show you why it’s advantageous to use dewaxed shellac, and how it allows you to control far more aspects of your finish than buying it premade. Enjoy.
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Dewaxed shellac is the shellac that comes in flake form in a bag rather than the premixed form that’s already in a can and ready to apply. That’s the easiest way to distinguish one from another at the woodworking store.
In order to preserve the shellac flakes, the wax is removed, leaving only the hardest substances behind, which are later on mixed into a liquid finish. These flakes are durable, they store well, and they can last a very long time.
Canned shellac that’s already mixed will have wax in the liquid, and if you need a finish that does not contain wax, you are going to have to mix it yourself. However, there are so many good reasons to do it that you’ll probably never buy canned shellac again.
You Control the Mixture
One of the biggest advantages of using dewaxed shellac and mixing your own finish is that you control the mixture. Instead of buying something that’s already mixed into a certain volume of shellac for the volume of alcohol, you get to pick.
With most finishes, you have absolutely no say in the ratios. There are some times when a larger amount of shellac or a smaller amount of shellac in the mixture is a really big advantage, but with a can you don’t have the ability to choose.
When you use shellac flakes and make your own, if you want a 2 pound mixture, or a 3 pound mixture, you simply adjust your ratios, and you’re there. It’s really easy to do in small batches, and you’ll always have the exact shellac finish you want to use.
See Also: 5 Great Uses for Amber Shellac
You Control the Freshness
Another really big advantage to mixing your own is that you control the freshness of the mixture. Finishes to go bad over time, and sometimes it can be difficult to tell whether you’re buying a fresh product or not at the store.
No matter the circumstances, fresh product is going to perform better than old product. Especially product as well beyond its expiration date, or product that has been stored poorly, or allowed to get too hot or too cold.
Since you have absolutely no control what happens to your finish at any part of the manufacturing process, or any part of the logistical side of the process, when you buy a can of finish you just don’t know what you’re getting.
Shellac that you make yourself is different, because you literally witness the entire process right in front of your face. You know exactly how old the product is, how it was stored, how hot or cold it was stored, and where it’s been the entire time since it was made.
See Also: Mixing Shellac
You Control the Thinners and Additives
Since you are the one in charge, and you are mixing the shellac and thinners together to make your mixture, you get to control everything. This means you get to decide exactly what types of thinners and additives you’ll use.
Depending on what you’re making, the thinner that you use can make a difference. This is normally minor in most circumstances, but for some things you definitely need to choose a specific thinner over another.
For example, if you’re finishing something that’s going to make contact with food, you should use an alcohol that’s food safe. This means a cheap alcohol is out of the equation, but that’s a small price to pay for safety.
Also, if you are one of those people who just likes to know what’s in their finishes, and you don’t want to entertain the idea of mystery ingredients that you don’t understand, mixing your own shellac flakes yourself will solve that problem.
See Also: 10 Step Guide to Wood Finishing
You Control the Color Perfectly
Another advantage that can come in handy is the ability to control the exact color of the resulting shellac mixture. Shellac flakes come in a lot of colors. They range from almost clear to very dark amber/brown.
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When you mix your own, you have complete control over the color from start to finish. If you purchase several different shades of shellac, you can combine them to create a custom hue that’s all yours.
You’ll have far more choices than clear or Amber, which are about the only two that you get when you buy your mixture in a can. In contrast, you can come up with hundreds of shades in between, and many that are way darker.
Tips and Tricks for Dewaxed Shellac
- Most shellac is a 2 pound mixture to a 3 pound mixture. This is a good starting point when you make your own.
- The darker shellac flakes are more interesting than the lighter ones, which just tend to look like a clear coat.
- Shellac flakes can bunch up at the bottom of your jar when you are mixing, so make sure to agitate the jar often to prevent this.
- For most applications that don’t have anything to do with food, or kids, you can typically use denatured alcohol as your thinner.
- Only make enough shellac for your current project, plus maybe 10% to make sure that you don’t run out.
- If you are worried about an old batch of shellac, throw it out. It only cost a few pennies to make, and it’s not worth potentially ruining one of your projects.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all of the advantages of mixing your own shellac in your shop, and how it would put you in control of everything, it’s time to take action and what you’ve learned. If you’re brand new at shellac, you’re going to have a really good time.
Shellac is a fun finish for lot of reasons. First, it’s easy to make it it puts you in control. Second, it’s a traditional finish that has a very long track record. Finally, shellac ads a warm glow to any piece that makes it look amazing.
If you have any questions on dewaxed shellac, please post a question in the Q&A forum and I’ll be glad to answer it. Happy building.
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